Many students put a lot of work into planning their class schedule for each semester. However, the work put in by administration to plan what courses will be offered each semester often goes unnoticed.
The process of scheduling requires multiple members of administration and faculty and has several factors that need close attention in order to avoid conflicts.
According to Ferris Associate Provost of Academic Operations Leonard Johnson, each semester’s class schedule is determined by program directors and department chairs. These people are ultimately in charge of scheduling but they often consider the needs of faculty members.
Although the process can be time-consuming, it is made easier by using a scheduling matrix that sets time increments that most classes fall into, according to Ferris Registrar Elise Gramza.
“For fall and spring semesters, the matrix requires courses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday to meet in 50 minute increments and Tuesday and Thursday classes to meet in 75 minute increments. Adhering to these standards helps us to maximize our use of classrooms while ensuring that students have fewer schedule conflicts, allowing them time to move to and from back-to-back classes,” Gramza said.
The matrix works in most situations but Gramza said that some courses need more flexibility than the matrix offers, such as courses requiring a lab or courses that only meet once a week.
The process becomes increasingly complicated as many elements need to be considered. According to Johnson, some of the many factors include availability of professors that may have professional responsibilities that conflict with a class time, assuring the space in the classroom is appropriate for the class size and avoiding conflicts with other required classes within a program as to not cause overlap. Additional factors include sudden personal conflicts, such as family or health issues, that would prevent an instructor from teaching a class.
Although these factors are closely considered while determining class times, faculty members sometimes disapprove of their given schedule.
“Sometimes faculty are not happy with their schedule. However, our department leadership tries to find a way to honor the faculty’s wishes while meeting student need. Sometimes the faculty’s wishes are met and sometimes not, but we always try to have a win-win situation,” Ferris Associate Dean of Operations in the College of Arts & Sciences Trinidy Williams said.
In addition, there are sometimes conflicts with students who need to take multiple classes that overlap in a particular semester.
“When a conflict is discovered, every effort is made to make a change to accommodate students who may need to take two classes on the schedule that may conflict/overlap. Accommodations have included rescheduling one of the classes to avoid the conflict or working with individual students independently to allow them to complete required course requirements while not penalizing them for missing class time,” Johnson said.
The scheduling process, although intricate, is successful in scheduling over 2,700 classes a semester, according to Gramza.
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